FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KFSM) — A former Springdale auto dealer was sentenced to eight years in prison for selling a vehicle that he didn't own.
John Vancuren, 47, pleaded guilty last week in Washington County Circuit Court to theft of property.
Vancuren also owes $13,000 in restitution and must abide by a two-year suspended sentence after he's released from the State Department of Correction.
Vancuren has a history of fraudulent business practices stemming from his slate of companies in the region, which include Infinity Auto Sales, Inc., Infinity Towing and Recovery, Inc. and Vancurens Auto Sales, Inc.
Last summer, a Pulaski County circuit judge found Vancuren, his wife Michelle Vancuren, and their companies had violated state trade law nearly 60 times through unsavory business practices.
Piazza ordered the Vancurens and their companies liable for $590,000 in civil penalties, $73,001.71 in restitution, and he enjoined the Vancurens from engaging in the business of used car sales.
Attorney General Leslie Rutledge applauded Piazza's ruling and said she was pleased "to see the criminal and civil justice systems work together to keep Arkansans safe."
Rutledge is requesting that if you are or someone you know is a victim of the Vancurens, to please contact the Attorney General’s office immediately.
Arkansans can contact the attorney general’s office to file a consumer complaint by calling 800-482-8982 or by going online to ArkansasAG.gov.
During Vancurens' trial, 26 witnesses testified the family failed to deliver titles to their cars, failed to satisfy prior liens on the vehicles and also failed to return money rightfully belonging to consumers.
According to the complaint filed in December 2016, the Vancurens routinely submitted a customer’s loan application to a third-party lender, and if approved, the lender deposited the loan into the Vancurens’ bank account, leaving them with a lump sum of the loan proceeds and the borrower with the obligation to repay the lender.
In several cases, however, the customer returned the purchased vehicle due to mechanical issues. The Vancurens failed to return the loan proceeds, leaving the customer with a debt to pay and no vehicle.
In other cases, the Vancurens convinced the consumer to purchase another vehicle with financing from a different third-party lender, but the Vancurens failed to refund the original loan proceeds, leaving the consumer with two loans on two different vehicles, but only one vehicle in possession.